Author: Quentin de Bruyn
I am very excited to share the latest weaning results from the Vastrap commercial cross-breeding herd. I have never seen such impressive cow:calf wean ratios as yielded by this group of commercial F1 Boran/Angus cows bred back to Angus bulls. The group yielded an average of 53% for females (with every single female calf exceeding 48%) and 57% for the male calves with only one calf below the 48% level.
I started using Boran bulls on my Angus cattle in 2010. My initial intention was to establish a commercial herd of F2 (75% Boran, 25% Angus), because I liked the look, structure and functionality of these animals. However, the theory behind outcrossing the F1 animals back to an Angus bull also made a lot of sense. The cow (75% Boran) would bring a high degree of the advantages of the Boran to the equation (such as resistance to diseases, ability to maintain body condition under tough circumstances, low maintenance costs and higher stocking levels), while the calf (62.5% Angus) would have some of the advantages of the Angus (such as growth, hybrid vigour, excellent meat quality with the corresponding acceptability to the feedlot industry).
For practical reasons, I have reverted to a more simple cross-breeding programme where I put a Boran bull on Angus cows and then follow up by putting the F1 heifers (50/50) from this combination back to a Angus bull to produce a (75/25) Angus/Boran offspring. The retained females from this combination are bred back to a Boran bull, which in turn yields a (62.5/37.5) Boran/Angus to be bred back to an Angus bull and so forth.
|Weaning Averages: F1 (50/50) cow with Angus/Boran calf (75/25)|
|Weaning Age||216.5 days||211.9 days|
|Adjusted weight (210 days)||246.8kg||278.1kg|
These results are simply astounding to me!! In 20 years of farming and record keeping, I have never seen such impressive cow:calf wean ratios as yielded by these commercial F1 Boran/Angus cows bred back to Angus bulls.
When I started farming in 2000, I came to the farm with civil engineering and commerce degrees from UCT and a master’s degree in management from the University of Oxford. My motto was “If you don’t measure it you cannot manage it”. The Afrikaans saying “As jy nie meet nie dan weet jy nie” probably says it better. From the start I realised that you can’t determine your best or worst performing animals if you don’t measure. I have always kept my commercial herds in same-age groups, tagged all cattle, kept birth records, tagged all calves and weighed calves and cows at weaning. This enabled me to make informed decisions about which cattle to cull and even more importantly: which heifers to keep as replacement stock, based on their own wean indexes, their wean weight as a percentage of their mother’s weight and the mother’s ICP and historical weaning indexes.
The reason I mention all this is not to boast about my management practices, but to place emphasis on the fact that in 20 years of farming, I have never seen such impressive cow:calf wean ratios. My experience has been that a female weaning at more than 45% of her mother’s body weight and a male at more than 48% is excellent and cows that produce these results are marked as A-grade for that breeding season. This group yielded an average of 53% for females (with every single female calf exceeding 48%!) and 57% for the male calves with only one calf below the 48% level, a truly incredible result!